Eilte programs notice Kuehu
It started with a dream for Shawna-Lei Kuehu.
Now, her fantasy of playing college basketball at the highest level is transforming into reality. The Punahou junior, playing for the California Storm, had consistently dominant performances at the Nike Elite tournament in Chicago recently. The Storm went 5-2 and placed sixth. Kuehu, a 5-foot-10 center for Punahou, wound up as one of the better players in the event, which features the top 24 Nike club teams in the nation. She was third in scoring at the tourney with 17.1 points per game.
Kuehu played on the wing for the Storm and racked up a multitude of 20-plus-point games. She had 26 points and seven rebounds in the quarterfinals, and 21 points, six rebounds and three assists in the semifinals. Her all-around play has boosted her stock into another atmosphere.
Because of her performances with the Storm, as well as her play with the Kalakaua squad that went to Oregon and Washington earlier in the summer, Kuehu now has serious interest from more than 30 schools. Among them are national powerhouse Connecticut and Pac-10 members USC, UCLA, Washington, Arizona State and Stanford.
Scout.com has Kuehu rated as a four-star player (out of a possible five) at guard and forward, one of the top 29 players of the junior class.
Her star began to rise at Kilauea Gym in late June, when Kalakaua met the Storm for two games. Kuehu averaged more than 30 points in those matchups to lead Kalakaua in two victories. That caught the eye of the Storm, who invited her to play with them in tournaments at Chicago and North Augusta, N.C.
"When we were up there in Oregon, their head guy had e-mailed me and Coach (Dennis) Agena about playing on their team," said Mike Taylor, her coach at Punahou. "One of their players had committed to Arizona State, so they had an opening."
Once Kalakaua returned from the Northwest -- where UH coach Jim Bolla was among hundreds of coaches on the lookout -- Kuehu was ready to log more mileage.
The Storm, which has notable former standouts like Alana Beard of Duke, gave Kuehu a chance to match up against the best, including the eventual champion, Georgia Metros. One of the Metros, Maya Moore, is the nation's top recruit, heading to UConn. Kuehu limited Moore to 10 points. Playing before her grandmother in North Augusta, Kuehu scored 20 points in that game and wound up as the fourth-leading scorer in the tournament.
"Her (Storm) coach (George Quintero) said she did everything," Taylor noted. "She went inside, outside, beat people off the dribble, made steals."
Quintero once coached Diana Taurasi, formerly of UConn and currently with the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA. "He had a lot of nice things to say about her game. He was just amazed, taking a kid who was getting a chance to play for the first time against these elite players, and playing with confidence," Taylor said.
Kuehu's summer voyage read like this: Honolulu to Oregon to Washington and back to the islands before leaving five days later for Santa Barbara (Calif.) and a Nike Elite camp. From there, Kuehu traveled with the California Storm to Chicago and North Carolina.
ILH admins in uproar: The decision of the executive board of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association last month to implement an across-the-board limitation on offseason coaching for varsity coaches has met resistance.
Athletic directors in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu have challenged this new rule, which was passed by leaders of the ILH and Oahu Interscholastic Association at the board meeting on July 13. With a majority of votes, the ILH and OIA restricted coaches severely from participating in offseason club competition.
In addition to ADs, coaches across the islands, including the Big Island, voiced strong concerns. On the Big Island, particularly, there is a shortage of coaches. The success of girls basketball at Honokaa and Konawaena, for example, is largely due to the offseason labor of high school coaches Daphne Honma and Bobbie Awa.
The ILH athletic directors will get their say when the HHSAA board meets on August 24.
Semones lands in Idaho: Doug Semones, longtime teacher and football coach at Kahuku, is now doing the same in Idaho.
The former head coach guided the Red Raiders to Oahu Interscholastic Association titles in 1989, '93, '94 and '95. Semones returned after a stint at the University of Hawaii as an assistant coach. He was one of the finalists for the Kahuku head coaching job last spring.
"Oh yeah, we'll miss him, and he was on campus, too," Kahuku athletic director Joe Whitford said of the need for on-campus coaches. "But we've got a few coaches who are on campus. We'll have close to 200 kids, at least 185, 190 in varsity and JV."
The on-campus coaches include new head coach Reggie Torres.
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